Nutrient Dense QUICK Granola

A few family members have requested my granola recipe…..as I usually just “wing it” and just add ingredients by eye, I decided to finally measure everything out and get it all down for you all! It is a super easy, vitamin and mineral rich breakfast – and when you mix it up with some full fat yogurt, it fills yours and your kidlets’ tummies for a good while.

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If you have a kitchen-aid, it’s unbelievably fast. Just dump in the wet ingredients, mix, add the dry ingredients, mix, and you’re good to go. Grease a large baking sheet and spread the granola fairly shallowly over the pan. Bake for five minutes or until you notice the corners browning a tad, flip, and bake again for the same amount of time.

You can shake up the recipe a great deal by maintaining the same ratio of wet ingredients and oats, while switching out the puffed rice for any other type of cereal, the nuts for any other nut or large seed. The hemp hearts can also be subbed with chia – although the chia tends to not “stick” as well to the mix. You can even add nut butters to the wet ingredients if you like.

Let the granola cool on the pan and then transfer to an airtight container for storage. After it’s cooled, if you have an extra sweet tooth, you can add a scoop of chocolate chips to your mix (don’t do this while it’s hot or they will just turn into melted chocolate). If you can keep it that long, it should be good in your pantry for a week. But I challenge you to actually not eat it all by then 😉

Keep It Simple Sunscreen!

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So I posted my first sunscreen recipe a while back, and am extremely sorry to say that the consistency of the recipe has not proven itself to be reliable. It seems to work fine as a sunblock, we haven’t had any burns with it on (unless we’ve been in extreme conditions or forgotton to reapply) – but I really hate making the lotion, and find that it separates, gets gummy and develops hard bits in it after a while. Furthermore, I find the clean-up ridiculous using a food processor.

So…..apologies to any of you who have had mixed results with that recipe. I know when to admit I haven’t gotten something totally right, and this was one of those times!

But I have good news for you! A new, SIMPLE recipe is here! I have now tried and tested this recipe and I think it is not only mountains easier to make, but clean-up is easier, and the lotion is of a much better consistency. It glides on super smooth, and the zinc oxide blends much nicer without any chunks. I have omitted the aloe verathat was in my past recipe because I think it was contributing to the lumpiness and lack of emulsification, being water based and not oil based. If you would like to include aloe in your sun exposure regimen, I suggest making a spray out of food grade aloe juice and applying it after being in the sun 🙂

And it WORKS! I am talking moderate exposure, of course. I haven’t tried this in the desert in Arizona. If you are out and about at a spray park for a few hours, at the park, spending the day at the beach (with some shade time interspersed) and reapplying once or twice, you are golden. Literally ;). I can’t attest for severe conditions, as I don’t expose my family to them – we do moderate sun exposure and seek shade often. The only time I’ve burned with this lotion on is while standing in a paddle pool with my son from 12 pm – 2 pm, after having applied it at like 9 am, and likely having the stuff on my back partially rubbing off in the car (read: human error). My son has never burned with it on, including during that same time in the pool :). Please re-apply after swimming or extended water play, as this sunscreen is not entirely waterproof (I haven’t met a sunscreen that really is, frankly).

And in case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, check out these few articles on the toxic nature of commercially produced, chemical based sunscreen, and do some additional research for yourself:

EWG’s “The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals”
Mercola’s Sunscreen Guide

My recipe utilizes only TWO ingredients, both of which contribute to the SPF of the recipe, extra virgin coconut oil, and non-nano zinc oxide. “Non-nano” zinc oxide means that it is not penetrating your skin’s mucous barrier, and going into your bloodstream. You can buy non-nano zinc oxide online at New Directions Aromatics, or at many soap making shops or bulk ingredient stores like The Soap Dispensary. I buy my coconut oil at Costco – they have a very affordable extra virgin organic oil there, and it seems to always be in stock.

Sure, you can buy zinc oxide based sunscreen, but holy moly does it ever put a dent in your wallet – and if you don’t use it all within season, don’t expect it to have held together for next year! So I choose to make my own, cheaply and simply.

So let’s get started on how to make super easy, inexpensive, low toxin sunscreen.

1). Start with one cup of softened or completely melted coconut oil. I prefer softened only, if possible.
2). Put in a bowl big enough to mix it in with an electric mixer with beaters.
3). Add 1/4 cup zinc oxide, being careful not to inhale any (wear a mask if possible). Although fairly benign on your skin, you do not want to inhale the stuff.
4). Beat together the mixture until very well blended.
5). Put mixture in the fridge for 5-15 minutes, depending on how soft your oil was to begin with. You want the oil to cool significantly, but not become very hard or solid.
6). Beat the mixture again until it develops soft peaks and takes on the texture of a thick lotion. If it does not seem to be getting creamy, only staying soupy, you need to refrigerate a bit longer and try again.
6.5). If you would like to add some mosquito repellent qualities to your recipe, add about 10-15 drops of citronella essential oil to your recipe now, and continue blending.
7). And you’re done! Store the mixture in a cool location, but preferably not in the fridge, or it will get too hard. What you can do is store it in the fridge for longer periods of non-use, and then take it out the day before you plan on using it. If it is super hot in your house, or if you plan to take it with you to the beach and leave it in a hot bag – store it with a freezer pack so it stays cool. The ingredients will separate if it totally melts. If this happens, not to worry, just repeat steps 5 & 6 🙂

If you mix the same proportions as me, you will end up with a sun lotion with about an SPF of 30. But you can add more zinc if you wish, to increase the SPF – the higher proportion of zinc in the recipe, the higher the SPF – supposedly the percentage of zinc you add is your recipe’s SPF; and coconut oil has an SPF of between approx 5-10.

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*A note about clean-up: I caution you from just putting your bowl and beaters directly into the dishwasher or sink prior to doing a wipe down with paper towel. This will likely result in a lovely greasy film spreading all over your entire load of dishes, that you will need to hand wash to remove. I almost never use paper towel or any other disposable cleaning product in my house, but I DO use it for cleaning up zinc oxide sunscreen. It is quite hard to clean off, because it is greasy and not very permeable (hence making it a great barrier for sun protection, but not so great a barrier to clean through). So I suggest wiping as much as you can off your utensils and bowl with paper towel, and then hand washing them in a sink by themselves so as not to get the sunscreen residue all over everything. You’ve been warned!

For low sun exposure, I just use my Whipped Body Butter, or plain coconut oil. How easy is that, just rubbing on some coconut oil?

I can’t wait to hear what you think about this new recipe. I am super excited about how easy it is to make, and how effective it has been. Let me know how it goes!

Immune boosting, energy rich smoothie!

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I bought a hand blender a little while ago and have been making a LOT of smoothies with it. This is my favourite personal recipe so far, and my two year old loves it too. All of the ingredients are in the graphic – just blend! But don’t forget to let your chia seeds soak in the water / juice for about 5 minutes prior to heighten their bioavailability and make them more palatable.

I find this smoothie gives me more energy than a cup of coffee, and without the crash afterwards! Not to mention it helping your body immensely when you are sick – especially due to the turmeric, ginger, honey & lemon – don’t leave any of these ingredients out. Feel free to omit the yogurt and just add a bit more liquid (fresh orange juice would be my recommendation) if you are going dairy free. Hope you enjoy!

DIY your own Natural Sunscreen EASILY and CHEAPLY!

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UPDATE: (July 21, 2014) I have now posted a preferred sunscreen recipe for you HERE. I have found that the recipe below, although providing adequate sun protection, does not reliably emulsify every time, and sometimes develops a grittiness or chunky quality over time. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

So it’s that time of year again where we may think about starting to reach for the sunscreen when spending long periods of time outside. As many of us have now realized, most traditional sunscreen is quite toxic, and (ironically) contains many carcinogens. And if you know this, you know that the natural alternatives are NOT cheap. You are looking at twenty to thirty bucks a bottle for some of the store-bought alternatives.

Now, this wasn’t acceptable to me, so I thought, hey, why don’t I try making my own? Understandably, it is one of those ‘riskier’ DIY exploits to jump on. I felt like, man, if I screw this up, I might end up with a wicked sunburn. Yikes! And myself and my immediate family members (including my two year old), are pasty white.

BUT, after some substantial research, I decided it was worth a shot. So, last year, I whipped up a batch and tried it out. And it worked AMAZING. I was overjoyed to find that neither myself, my husband, or my son burned while wearing it. That being said, we weren’t spending all day on the beach in Florida. We are looking at a couple hours at a water park with moderate amounts of clothing on. I am one for everything in moderation, and I include my sun exposure in that category – I am just not one for baking in the sun all day.

BUT, I do know of some Moms who use very similar recipes and find it is also pretty good for heavier sun exposure. That also being said, just know that I am not PERSONALLY attesting to this.

My recipe relies on two active ingredients that are said to provide a physical barrier to harmful UV exposure. These ingredients are zinc oxide and extra virgin coconut oil. Some folks use just the coconut oil with decent success, but since my pasty skin is so vulnerable, I really felt I needed to add in the zinc oxide as well.

You do need to source the zinc oxide in an unusual location, as it is not something that is widely available in most stores. You can buy zinc oxide online HERE at New Directions Aromatics, or locally at The Soap Dispensary or another similar soap making shop. Please make sure that the zinc oxide you use is non-nano, which basically means it is not readily absorbing through your skin into your bloodstream. While it is a less toxic alternative, it is not completely benign, and should not be used internally or inhaled.

Alternatively if you just cannot source the zinc oxide powder, I have a suggestion (not as toxin free, mind you, as it includes petroleum products) using diaper cream below – wait for it :). Not my first choice, but an option!

Anyways, after that lengthy introduction, here is my recipe for sunscreen that supposedly results in around 20-25 SPF:

1 part non-nano zinc oxide powder
1 part food grade aloe vera gel
4 parts extra virgin coconut oil
OPTIONAL: Add 10 drops per half cup of sunscreen citronella essential oil to make your sunscreen double as a mosquito repellent.

IMPORTANT: Mix in a well ventilated area, with a mask on. Once mixed, the zinc oxide is fine, but it is NOT to be inhaled as it can accumulate in your lungs. Not to scare you, but just wear a mask like this one and you will not only look wicked awesome, but you will be perfectly fine 🙂

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PROCESS UPDATED ON MARCH 4, 2014:

Start by melting your coconut oil in a double boiler (see my FAQ for an explanation). Add your zinc oxide, and mix well until there is not much left stuck on the bottom of your bowl. Next, transfer this mixture to a food processor (the sunscreen is REALLY hard to clean out of the processor afterwards, so if your budget allows it, I would have a separate food processor for your body products), and blend for at least five minutes.

Add your aloe vera gel (I personally like Lily of the Desert’s products) and citronella. Blend for another five minutes. The aloe vera is in there to be soothing to sun exposed skin, as well as acting as a bit of a liquefier for our mixture. It is not 100% necessary to functionality of the recipe, so if need be, you can omit it. I just find it is a nicer product with it included. The citronella acts as a natural mosquito repellent – and it smells nice, too 🙂

NOTE: It is not advisable to hand mix this recipe, as the zinc oxide tends to just separate if not mixed very vigorously with a processor. If you find that, when applied, your sunscreen contains a lot of white flecks, rather than being more uniformly white, you may need to process it longer.

*If you absolutely cannot find zinc oxide powder, you can use Penaten or some other zinc oxide based diaper rash ointment, and mix in double or triple the amount you would have used if you had the zinc oxide powder. I don’t recommend this health wise, as there are petroleum products in these creams, and the zinc is not likely to be non nano, but if you need to, it’s still better than the toxic regular sunscreen, and a LOT cheaper than the store bought naturals!

And there you have it! This sunscreen will go on a bit white-ish (especially if you use the diaper rash cream) but I find that to be the case with most store bought natural sunscreen as well. This recipe also is not waterproof. You WILL need to reapply after a swim or spending a lot of time in a water park. You just can’t make a waterproof sunscreen that is satisfyingly free of major toxins. So keep this in mind! And it IS greasy. That is just the nature of pretty much all natural, physical barrier sunscreen. I haven’t found any, storebought or not, that is not greasy to some extent.

If you find you get a burn using this sunscreen, either consider upping the amount of zinc oxide you use (just stir in some more into your current batch if you need to), or apply it more often. Another problem could be that you are applying the lotion “too thin” – you want to make sure you have a thicker layer on, as this is a BARRIER sunscreen, not a chemical based one.

I hope this recipe works for your family, and saves you some money too!

Dr. Oz’s DIY Baking Soda Toothpaste Faux Pas!

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Okay, so I was watching Dr. Oz today as it was mentioned to me he was doing a special on uses for baking soda. Expecting to give him a nod after seeing some repeats of some of my favourite tricks, I instead was horrified to see what his colleague demonstrated as a whitening toothpaste.

What Dr. Oz had concocted is absolutely NOT something I would EVER recommend brushing your teeth with. Baking soda on teeth? YES. Kudos for getting this far. BUT – and here is where my warnings about utilizing acids and bases properly when mixing household and body products come in – baking soda + pureed strawberries + lemon juice for your teeth? WHAT? NO!

Let me tell you why.

First of all, what is happening here is you are scrubbing your teeth with lemon juice, which is an acid, known for stripping the enamel from your teeth.. Insert annoying game show buzzer here. Hello, cavity time! And then, as is absolutely NOT recommended, you are applying an abrasive substance (baking soda) immediately upon weakening the enamel, further stripping your teeth. You should never brush your teeth with ANY toothpaste immediately after weakening the enamel. AND you are adding some sugar in the form of the strawberries, to sit on your teeth and rot. Will your teeth get whiter? Probably, baking soda does a great job at that. Will you get cavities? I’m gonna say yuuuuppp.

At the very best, the acid of the lemon juice is combining with the base of the baking soda, causing a chemical reaction and creating a completely inert substance with none of the cleansing and antibacterial qualities of baking soda (which is really the only ingredient of the three you should be applying to your teeth). I was completely baffled by this recipe being propogated by someone who should know better.

Do you know what I have for you instead of this DIY disaster? My own brilliant whitening toothpaste recipe, which utilizes baking soda (a natural whitener, cleanser and antibacterial agent) and coconut oil as the active cleansing and protective ingredients (coconut oil has been shown to have some amazing protective benefits for teeth). I already posted it a while back for you here, but I will make it easy on you and include it below as well:

NATURAL, FLUORIDE FREE, WHITENING TOOTHPASTE:

4 parts baking soda
2 parts extra virgin coconut oil
1 part vegetable glycerin*
A few drops (to taste – depending on quantity – unfortunately you may have to experiment) peppermint essential oil. I find about 3-4 drops per 1/4 cup of paste does the trick.

*Please make sure this is vegetable glycerin, and food grade if possible. Other forms of glycerin are largely made with petroleum. You don’t want that in your mouth any more than you want fluoride in there, IMHO.

Mix mix mix! It helps to add the coconut oil, peppermint and glycerin first, and then mix in the baking soda part by part. If it is too thick, add more glycerin or oil. Too runny? More baking soda! Mix until you get your desired consistency if the ratio doesn’t turn out right. I find it varies a bit based on quantity. The exact ratio doesn’t change the effectiveness very much (unless you are widely changing it).

If your coconut oil is too hard to mix as is, heat it a bit in a double boiler first – but don’t allow it to melt completely, or your toothpaste will separate too much after mixing.

Try your toothpaste out! I just scoop it directly out of a small mason jar with my toothbrush (wetted a bit). Use generously, and expect some drool ;). Seriously. It makes me drool a bit. Saltiness, maybe? Anyway. Moving on….

So please, don’t believe everything you see on TV.. This recipe of Dr. Oz’s may have had some devastating effects on your teeth. Do some research (and feel free to research my ingredients as well) before you try any personal care products!

DIY Vapour Rub

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So I asked all of you what recipe you’d like to see first, and I think we decided on vapour rub? Fitting, since it is sickie season! This recipe is pretty darn easy, too. Eucalyptus and peppermint are powerful congestion busters! And I would like to think it is safer than Vicks (not to mention not using petroleum based products).

Because of the involvement of essential oils, it makes it tricky for me to do this one in ‘parts’. So unfortunately we are doing it with exact ratios today! It seemed to me like I had to use a ridiculous amount of essential oil to get that strong vapor rub sent – I am wondering if my eucalyptus oil is maybe getting a little old. Please let me know if this turns out to be too strong for you!

You will need to melt, in a double boiler on medium-low heat –

4 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp beeswax

Remove from heat, wait to cool for about 3 minutes, and add

20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Stir thoroughly, pour into desired container and refrigerate immediately. Should be good to remove in about 5-10 minutes. Finished product will be relatively the consistency of petroleum jelly or so.

If you find the scent to be too mild, you can always add more. Don’t go too crazy though as essential oils at too high a concentration can irritate the skin. The scent may also fade over time, in which case go ahead and add more again.

CAUTIONS: I would not recommend using this for kids under two. There have been cautions surrounding using peppermint oil in infants and very young children. Rub on the CHEST and FEET, not on the face. You don’t want to overwhelm your child with a powerful essential oil right by their nose. Feel free to try it by your own nose, but don’t subject your kids to that, please!!

Let me know how this works for you!

Odour Busting Deodorant!

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It’s time for the big reveal of my amazingly simple deodorant recipe! This was one of the first home recipes I perfected. I have never really been happy with the results using commercially made natural deodorant, nor am I satisfied using aluminum laden carcinogenic antiperspirants. You won’t believe how effective this recipe is, and how easy it is to make! You can use it preventatively, OR as an instant odor neutralizer. You can even use it on stinky feet! As usual, it is super CHEAP to make, too – and you can keep it right on your bathroom counter.

Thus this great, incredibly effective easy recipe:

1 part coconut oil
1 part cornstarch OR arrowroot powder
1 part baking soda
OPTIONAL: 2 drops per 1/4 cup of ingredients tea tree essential oil (or another of your choice, although I recommend tea tree for its antimicrobial properties).

In a double boiler on low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the other ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and pour immediately into desired container – I choose to use a small mason jar and later apply with my finger. Others may choose to fill a toilet paper roll or old deodorant container and rub directly on your pits – I personally find I end up applying too much this way. Allow to set in the freezer to avoid ingredients separating / settling. Results in a very thick paste.

Apply sparingly – a little goes a long way (you don’t want to overapply this stuff or it may end up being a bit irritating)! Also works great for drying out pimples – apply a blob directly to the pimple and let sit overnight.

CAUTIONS / TROUBLESHOOTING:
Not little black dress friendly – may leave a white residue (should not stain your clothes, though).
May melt a bit in a hot environment, but does not change its effectiveness!
If you develop a rash, discontinue use for a 3-5 days, and try applying in smaller amounts at less frequent intervals. If it still bothers you, you may be sensitive to one of the ingredients – try my alternative spray on deodorant HERE.